Some movies are cursed with bad timing. Before they come out, another film covers the same ground and you end up looking like a pale imitation before you even hit the screen. It's especially bad when your film really is better than the original.
Truly Madly Deeply is a prime example. It's a film about a woman who lost her lover tragically, and who finds him returning to her as a Ghost. But whereas Ghost is a tragic love story, Truly Madly Deeply is both a love story and a movie about moving on.
Juliet Stephenson plays Nina, who is in deep mourning due to the death of her lover Jamie. She cannot get on with her life, and doesn't want to -- until Jamie shows up to help her along.
The movie was written with Stephenson in mind. Writer/Director Anthony Minghella knew of her work and gave her a vehicle to make her a star. She is positively luminous -- bereft at the loss of her boyfriend, and joyous when he returns.
And Jamie is played by Alan Rickman. This is one of his few non-villainous roles, and it's nothing like you're used to seeing him. Jamie is charming warm and loving and you can certainly see why Nina misses him. I've often noticed that an actor known for playing villains makes a good hero when given the chance (and vice versa) and this fits right in. In this case, Rickman's dark screen persona gives some bite to a character who Nina believes is Mr. Wonderful. He is, but not in the way she thinks, and few other than Rickman could do the role without becoming syrupy.
Stephenson never went on the be the star Minghella planned for her to be, though Minghella went on to acclaim, including an Oscar for The English Patient. The movie is about life, and life's passages. Jamie has returned to Nina for a reason, and discovering why is one of the many joys of the film.
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